In Humanity gets one wish, I asked how the world would react to a god-like being offering to give humanity a wish. From the responses that question got, I seem to have misjudged how much chaos and panic it would cause. There were also concerns about needing to do "rules lawyering".

I've also done some further development on the god-like being's motivation since then. Basically, he wants to help humanity to reach a utopian Galactic civilization. There are many paths that can lead to that, but also many paths that will lead to humanity self-destructing and wiping itself out. He wants to put humanity onto one of the successful paths, but it doesn't really matter which as they are roughly equivalent. He could just pick one, but he highly values free will. As such, he wants humanity to come up with a wish, and he will put humanity on whichever path to success most closely matches that wish.

What would be the best way to offer humanity a wish? To be specific:

  1. There should not be widespread chaos or panic. It should be clear that this is a altruistic gift to humanity and that the result will be something that we like. It's okay if a small percentage of people panic (less that 0.1%, perhaps?), as long as it's not enough to cause riots.
  2. Most people should not worry about "being careful what you wish for". They should understand that no matter what they wish for it won't go badly for (most of) them - even a wish of "we wish to be destroyed" would go well for them (perhaps the removal of the biggest annoyance(s) causing them to want to be destroyed).
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    $\begingroup$ Speaking for myself, whenever a genie is stroking his beard and hectoring me to stop thinking so much and make a wish already, I always find his repeated assertions that "everything will be fine" to be super-reassuring. $\endgroup$ Oct 12, 2015 at 19:11
  • $\begingroup$ @DougWarren Yeah, that's why I'm asking this. My attempt in my previous question was to have him do something to demonstrate his good intention, but that apparently wasn't significant enough. $\endgroup$
    – Rob Watts
    Oct 12, 2015 at 20:07
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    $\begingroup$ i feel like for answer i need to know why does it want to specifically offer "a wish" if it wont follow the wish but will do whatever it wants anyway ("we wish to be destroyed" would go well for them (perhaps the removal of the biggest annoyance(s) causing them to want to be destroyed)) Why It could not or will not do what is best straight away? $\endgroup$ Oct 13, 2015 at 13:59
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    $\begingroup$ The god-like being should find a group of humanity's finest, smartest people (for example in a stack-exchange forum) and poise the question rhetorically under the guise of wanting to write a fictional story. $\endgroup$ May 19, 2017 at 19:04

6 Answers 6


Use Aliens

I know it sounds crazy. But think about this: there really is not going to be an effective way to avoid any panic with a wish of this nature. Additionally, for all of humanity to decide on a single wish with anything more than 51% support is unlikely, and quite possibly not even what you want (given educational disparities and other issues). Instead of presenting humanity with evidence of the divine, do something that will not only have some basis in human reality, but also encourage your goal of galactic civilization:

Fabricate an alien ship and drop it into Earth orbit.

Through these aliens, you offer and grant your wish. The aliens, who are clearly very technologically advanced, offer humanity a single gift of technological knowledge to help them survive and advance as a species. While there will be some chaos in the wake of discovering extraterrestrial intelligent beings, their peaceful overture and eventual offering of a grand gift to humanity should ease some of the potential panic.

You won’t automatically get consensus here, but when faced with such a situation there would need to be serious international cooperation, the basis of which is already largely defined in existing governmental protocols for handling first contact. There will also be widespread concern and paranoia about the real intentions of the aliens. This will lead to enormous long-term scrutiny of whatever “technology” is granted to humanity. While this won’t placate everyone’s paranoia, it should create a foundation for reassurance and hope.

Here is the best part: by revealing other intelligent, space-faring life to humanity you have now created an enormous goal for our species: to join the other advanced civilizations in the stars. The aliens you create don’t even need to be a real species — humanity will go forth to the stars in search of them anyway. What else they find out there is up to you.

  • $\begingroup$ I am very skeptical about Aliens not enduring serious chaos and panic. Although you mention it. I think that you greatly underestimate that. $\endgroup$ Oct 13, 2015 at 14:01
  • $\begingroup$ @LukášRutar There definitely will be some panic, but I'm betting that the discovery of overtly peaceful aliens would induce much less chaos than a divine being irrefutably revealing itself. $\endgroup$
    – Avernium
    Oct 13, 2015 at 15:43

Open a massive virtual reality theme park. Inside, invite guests to interact with a virtual god like being who offers them one wish and then shows them how that wish would affect all of humanity. After a few years in operation, have the theme park franchise out to every country on the planet and lower its rates so that everyone can try it out.

After a few more years, once humanity has gotten used to this experience, hold a contest. Using a single elimination format and a syndicated TV show like Star Search, backed by a free telephone-based voting system. Whittle down the billions of initial players to a single planet wide champion based on popular vote.

Then fulfill that champion's wish.


Three goals

Establish understanding

that that being has humanity's best interests at heart

has the power and knowledge to know if a wish is good and fulfill it

Limit panic

Get a response

The first is by far the hardest, we have trouble trusting other humans let alone something so beyond us. The being could act as a human to try and demonstrate trustworthiness, this comes up in Agent to the Stars by John Scalzi. Acting as human allows humanity to get to know and adjust gradually to the new person. The being could ask people for the wishes simply as a good and wise human and never reveal its existence but it would seem that few people would understand the implications offered by the wish, thinking is was from a human, and free will based on misleading information is not really free will.

So the being must reveal its existence slowly to the world and demonstrate power and that it is own our side.

While this might start a bit of a dispute but some of the most famous books in history describe God trying to speak to man, and I acknowledge here my knowledge base and biases will show. The being could pick an individual person to speak to directly and carry the message to others. The being could do good and miraculous this for the messenger and through the messenger to prove itself, think of Abraham and the gift of Issac. Or become part human part God, and sacrifice greatly on our behalf, "But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us."

One choice vs many choices

There is a bit of a difference, between this case and the examples in the holy books of the world. In most religions God doesn't ask for humanity to make 1 all encompassing wish that he interprets once to drive our future forever. In most religions it is an aggregate of many choices with many corrections by God over time. The single wish version makes you doubt the being's value of free will, as humans we have trouble understanding and deciding how we live today, we would be so poorly informed about billions the possible futures and possible choices our choice would be basically random.

I would recommend many pieces of advice, smaller wishes or corrections not one sudden wish, people change there minds, just in case 350 years down the road humanity has a different vision of Utopian Galactic civilization


Don't tell them that's what you're doing

I know Mr. Deity values free will, but one of the best ways to ensure a free choice is to appear to remove all consequence. It's easy to make a clear choice based on your ideals if you don't think you're going to have to live with the consequences.

As an omnipotent and super-wise god-like being, I assume Mr. Deity has the ability to run around 4.5 billion simulations at the same time, so it should visit us all in our dreams.

Dreams are pretty crazy, and we're conditioned to accept all kinds of weirdness in a dream state. Mr. Deity therefore goes to each of us in an apparent dream, and presents us with our choices. At this stage, he can beam any knowledge we need to make an informed judgement directly into our minds, and we'll accept it - we all know those crazy dreams where you know things you can't possibly know, after all - and let us run through scenarios representing our options.

He does this several times, until he reaches a consensus with as few outliers as possible, and then grants us that consensus.

If he wants to be blatant, then everyone on earth will be given the same dream on the same night. If he wants to be subtle, he'll pick out a few million each night to have the dream. If he wants to be really subtle, he can also ensure that we remain asleep after the dream has ended, so that we won't even remember the dream.


What would be the best way to offer humanity a wish?

Not to offer it at all.

I mean, this is a divine being (otherwise, there's very little chance of it actually being able to deliver). Therefore it will have lots of ways of gathering wishes from people: from simple telepathy to involving them in complex virtual simulations and wiping all memory of it from their minds afterwards, to simply omnisciently knowing.

Once it has sufficient information, it can simply act.

...unless the point is not granting a wish at all, but rather having people decide.

(There is this novel from the Strugatski brothers, not uncoincidentally called Hard to be a God, where the main character - an Earth operative on a backward world - asks one of the natives this very question - what advice would you give the Almighty?).



Basically, the Alien beams the knowledge of what will happen if they choose any wish into people's heads or makes it so that if someone thinks of any particular wish the knowledge of what its outcome will be, will immediately pop into their heads. He could show that this information is accurate by allowing individuals to make smaller wishes before making the main wish and seeing that the outcomes of their small wishes were, as they predicted, with either no surprises or no surprises that would make them regret the wish.

Next, he could make it so that every human brain is in sync in such a way that each individual can make any decision that he/she wants with regard to what the wish will be, but it is either impossible for any two individuals to make a different decision on the wish or it is extremely unlikely that two individuals would make a different decision on the wish. This would make it so that humanity has free will with regard to the wish but there is no argument over who gets to decide what the wish will be because the wish that everyone decides on is the same.


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